Aerial moose survey results for 2014 show no significant change in Minnesota’s moose population even though more animals were seen than last year.
Results of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ annual aerial moose survey place the 2014 statewide moose population estimate at 4,350. The 2013 estimate was 2,760 but due to variability in the estimates, this year’s estimate does not represent a statistically significant change.
“The higher estimate this winter likely is related to ideal survey conditions rather than any actual increase in the population,” said Lou Cornicelli, wildlife research manager for the DNR. “This year’s heavy snows across northeastern Minnesota made it comparatively easy to spot dark-bodied moose against an unbroken background of white.”
Cornicelli said this year’s estimate is very close to the 2012 estimate of 4,230, which suggests that last year’s estimate may have under-counted the population.
That long-term trend shows Minnesota’s moose population is continuing a significant downward trend. Even with this year’s higher population estimate, the number of moose is about half of 2006’s estimate of 8,840.
No final decision about moose hunting will be made until after the DNR consults with the affected Chippewa bands in the 1854 Treaty ceded territory of northeastern Minnesota. The DNR suspended the season in 2013 because of last year’s low population estimate.